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Embedding Perl in HTML with Mason [Paperback]

Dave Rolsky , Ken Williams
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 54.95 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Oct. 26 2002 0596002254 978-0596002251 1

Mason doesn't aim to be the one true Perl-based templating system for building web sites, but it's led many programmers to abandon their custom solutions when they've seen how much easier using Mason can be. It's a powerful, open source, Perl-based web site development and delivery engine, with features that make it an ideal backend for high load sites serving dynamic content. Mason uses a concept called components: a mix of HTML, Perl, and special Mason commands. These components can be entire web pages, or bits of HTML that can be embedded in top-level components. Shared and reusable, these components greatly simplify site maintenance: when you change a shared component, you instantly change all pages that refer to it.Although using Mason isn't difficult, creating a Mason-based site can be tricky. Embedding Perl in HTML with Mason, written by members of Mason's core development team, shows you how to take advantage of Mason's strengths while avoiding the obstacles that inexperienced users may encounter. Mason's unique features, when used properly, can streamline the design of a web site or application. This concise book covers these features from several angles, and includes a study of the authors' sample site where these features are used.Embedding Perl in HTML with Mason shows you how to create large, complex, dynamically driven web sites that look good and are a snap to maintain. You'll learn how to visualize multiple Mason-based solutions to any given problem and select among them. The book covers the latest line of Mason development 1.1x, which has many new features, including line number reporting based on source files, sub-requests, and easier use as a CGI. The only book to cover this important tool, Embedding Perl in HTML with Mason is essential reading for any Perl programmer who wants to simplify web site design. Learn how to use Mason, and you'll spend more time making things work, and less time reinventing the wheel.

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About the Author

is a programmer, author, and activist with a background in music composition and an obsession with Hong Kong films and the works of author Gene Wolfe. He has been actively developing Free (Perl) Software for several years and is a member of the Mason core development team. For more information about Embedding Perl in HTML with Mason please visit www.masonbook.com, a web site maintained by the authors where additional information and downloadable source code are available.

is a researcher in Document Categorization at the University of Sydney in Australia. He has written many Perl modules of varying utility, about 20 of which are available on CPAN. Like co-author Dave Rolsky, Ken is a member of the HTML::Mason core development team. His educational background is in mathematics and music. For more information about Embedding Perl in HTML with Mason please visit www.masonbook.com, a web site maintained by the authors where additional information and downloadable source code are available.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Get me to the edge.... Dec 11 2002
I am using Mason for about a year. Then I saw the Mason book. My first tought was: "Why should I buy a book about Mason - The online documentation is excellent...?".
But even the introduction chapters of this book gives you new ideas how to get things done. Starting with the second half of chapter 4 every Masonsite developer should take a close look. He will find a in deep discussion about every Mason feature - and more (e.g. The Bricolage-CMS-Appendix).
I my opinion there is no discussion "to buy or not to buy" this book. The only question is "when".
On the one hand this book can be a bit boring for "new" Mason user and as mentioned before the online documentation is very good. On the other hand if you have your first mason-site done and read this book you will have very likely the urgent desire to rewrite some code.
But this is a common perl problem: "There are many ways to get things done."
I dislike the "Example" chapter. One of the big advantages of Mason is the possibility to seperate perl-code and HTML. This ist not very well done within the example-site.
Conclusion: This book is not needed to get in touch with Mason althought usefull - but if you are really starting to deploy a site I strongly recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Much More Than a Reference Dec 4 2002
Far from being just a reference, this book explains the conceptual framework behind Mason. The main idea of which is creating reusable components or building blocks to generate each element of your web site. This simple but powerful idiom is extremely useful in creating both small and very large dynamic web sites.
The book is aimed at intermediate to advanced Perl programmers, although a bright beginner could pick the material up with a little help from the Mason community's very helpful mailing list. This book is not a tutorial. Instead, the authors devote a long chapter (chapter 8) to the analysis of a fully functional web app with full source code. I preferred this approach however because it helped me focus on the application as a whole rather than silly pedantic examples that lack context.
Before reading this book, I had some experience working on a site that used a "home-brewed" templating system, but all the while I knew there had to be a better way. After reading through the first four chapters, I was able to build a rather sophisticated site and have been quite pleased with both Mason and this book. I fully recommend it.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Nov. 13 2002
By A Customer
I have read the book and I found it to be very disappointing. The main reason is that it addresses itself at a very small crowd, a crowd that already knows mod_perl and already has done some Mason development. This crowd might and probably will appreciate this book. I do not believe a lot of other people, eg. the intermediate Perl programmer with some CGI.pm knowledge, will benefit from it.
Didactically there is also something wrong with it. It is not hands-on enough. The first 7 chapters are pretty theoretical (academic) and not illustrated enough with examples. The 8th chapter is a practical example, an existing web application. Unfortunately the chapter is too big (60 pages), not very illustrative I find and further ruined by the fact that the authors are using one of their own CPAN modules called Alzabo all over the place. I have nothing against this module, I don't even know it but from a didactic point of view it is a mistake to use a module that is not very well known. Their is also a lack of screenshots or decent figures in the book. The authors do not seem to put graphical or visual presentation very high on their priority list.
This is the first book about Mason and on top of that written by two members of the development team. It should have been strong enough to convince people that Mason is a better approach than CGI.pm, that Mason is as good a templating solution as PHP or Zope. It should make you want to use Mason and forget about these other solutions. Unfortunately I do not believe it will convince anybody outside of the circle of the already converted.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book Dec 5 2002
By A Customer
From the standpoint of a person who knows Perl and Apache pretty well, I have to say this book is all I needed to get going with HTML::Mason. There are excellent online docs for Mason, there are places Mason fits better (and worse), and there are viable alternatives to Mason. This book covers that ground right off the bat, and I like that.
I was able to configure a couple servers, write up some test components, throw together some quick admin tools, and remake a custom database web app in a very short time using Mason and this book. It may not be for you if you are new to Perl or Apache, but I think Amazon has a wide selection of books available on both of these topics. Buy 'em, read 'em, then get this one.
I highly recommend it.
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